Farm leaders from the National Corn Growers Association said Thursday they were pleased with EPA's move to begin withdrawing the waters of the U.S. rule, though they also added there needs to be some recognition that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers do need to define the waters of the U.S.
NCGA leaders were asked about WOTUS during a press conference at the Commodity Classic convention in San Antonio.
Chip Bowling, chairman of NCGA, has had EPA water-quality staff out to his farm as part of his work to educate them on farm practices. Bowling, who is from Maryland, also noted he has lived under tighter water-quality rules in the Chesapeake Bay for decades and added some of those rules have been over-burdensome.
"When it came to the waters of the U.S., it was reaching even further into the agricultural sector, so we're glad that waters of the U.S. rule is gone, but we do know we need to have some regulation and this group will be there front and center when that time comes," Bowling said.
NCGA President Wesley Spurlock, who lives in the Texas Panhandle, pointed out there are flood-protection structures in his area to deal with floods that fit the definition of a possible regulatory area under the waters of the U.S. rule even though they have not had water in them for decades.
"The overreaching part was falling into some of those parts, so it's nice to know if we can rewrite the (rule) that would work for what Chip and what his fellow producers are doing in the Chesapeake and in the Mississippi (River) as well," Spurlock said.
Chris Novak, CEO of NCGA, pointed out the rule was meant to clarify issues from conflicting U.S. Supreme Court decisions "that had muddied the waters" for enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
"There is still obviously a need for some guidance," Novak said.
The executive order and the language from now-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will provide some guidance in those areas, Novak noted.
"In the short term, we have a rescission of the rule from the Trump administration, but we don't have a clear indication whether they will or will not promulgate a new rule, but there is still is a need for farmers to have more clarity about how the Supreme Court decisions should be clarified."
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